CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaiian Astronomical Society members set up telescopes yesterday at Bishop Museum for the public to view the planet Mercury's five-hour journey past the sun. Karen Peel of Honolulu took a photo of the transit. A University of Hawaii Webcast of the event proved popular enough to virtually shut down the site. CLICK FOR LARGE
A UH Webcast of the planet's transit across the sun draws so many hits that it jams up
A UNIVERSITY of Hawaii Webcast of planet Mercury's five-hour journey past the sun yesterday was so popular many people could not access it.
"The Web server was just overloaded with over 100,000 hits in about four hours," said Gary Fujihara, science education and public outreach officer for UH Institute for Astronomy, Hilo. "It virtually shut down."
Those who were persistent were able to get in but had to keep hitting the refresh button, he said.
Those who did see the five-hour transit, which began at 9:12 a.m., said it was "really cool." A sunspot also was visible.
"It was lots of fun and it's not over yet," Fujihara said. "We are still going to go over images.
"We will register them and put them on the Web site as movies so they don't jump around. We will do a little image manipulation to make them look a little better," he said.
The UH Institute for Astronomy, UH-Hilo Physics and Astronomy Department and Haleakala Amateur Astronomers produced the "Mercury Transit Hawaiian Style Webcast" with images from Mauna Kea and Haleakala.
The Webcast included movies and video interviews with scientists. Amateur astronomers and Kalama Intermediate School students helped capture images on Haleakala.
"Intrepid amateur astronomers were giving it their best," Fujihara said, noting the winds on Haleakala were about 60 mph and it was cold.
The Mees Observatory on Haleakala did not open until about halfway through the transit because of strong winds, he said.
Mauna Kea visitors could watch the event through telescopes at the visitor station. The Hawaiian Astronomical Society had solar telescopes for public viewing at the Bishop Museum.
The next Mercury transit that can be seen from start to finish will be May 10, 2062. The Webcast site is astroday.net/MercTransit06.html.